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It’s Noise Action Week But there’s No Need To Shout About It

May 21, 2013
Environmental Protection

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p>Local Authorities throughout the UK will be raising awareness of noise issues this week during EPUK’s annual Noise Action Week. Still responsible for large numbers of complaints from concerned residents noise also has an economic cost. The WHO report Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise issued in 2011 estimated that lost work days, healthcare treatment, impaired learning and decreased productivity due to noise cost European states a total of £20 billion annually. Noise pollution is also estimated to reduce Europe’s collective life expectancy by 1 million days a year, roughly one day for each member of the population.

If you can hear someone talking while you are reading this article your ability to concentrate will have suffered. A study by the British Journal of Psychology in 1998 found that productivity dipped by up to 60% amongst workers who were distracted by background noise. Pupils in Holland, Spain and the UK were found to have impaired reading comprehension associated with aircraft noise. A report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2006 found that a 20dB increase in levels was enough to delay a students reading level by up to eight months. It’s not all bad news though the right type of noise can have positive benefits as London Underground has shown during an experiment at Elm Park underground station. The introduction of a playlist of classical music resulting in a 33% drop in robberies and a 37% dip in vandalism.    


Burden of disease from environmental noise – WHO (2011)


Disruption of office related tasks by speech and office noise – Simon Banbury, Dianne C Berry – British Journal of Psychology August 1998


Exposure-effect relations between aircraft and road traffic noise exposure at school and reading comprehension: the RANCH project. (2006)


Mind the Bach: Classical music on the underground – The Independent May 20th 2013